McWHINNEY, Ph.D. , William Houston
July 2, 1929 - April 3, 2007
A longtime resident of Venice, CA, Will was a designer, consultant, and educator. He first worked in the early 1950's with the Bell System designing computer and operations research applications. Following his doctoral work at Carnegie Mellon University, he co-founded a business school at Leeds University (England) and created the first American STS program at the UCLA Graduate School of Management. By the late 1960's he was working to form the earliest of the high-performing open system organizations in manufacturing plants and in community development, social and physical design. Following the civil rights riots in Los Angles he joined efforts to rebuild housing and the arts community in central Los Angeles, and continued working with marginalized groups and non-profit organizations.
In 1979 he helped found the innovative doctoral program in Human and Organizational Systems for mid-career professionals at the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, a program that primarily educates through both face-to-face mentoring and using electronic communication.
Publication of Will's book, Paths of Change, established a new combination of analytic and expressive tools for resolving complex issues in organizations and communities. The sequel, Creating Paths of Change, made the tools particularly user friendly for change managers and consultants. An unfinished work, Grammars of Engagement, was working toward taking system theory into a new exploration of communications and conflict resolution.
Will was chairman of the board of HealthSpan International, an organization bringing health care and telemedicine to Tanzania. He was founding editor of the Journal of Transformative Education, past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, past vice-president of International Synergy, and headed his own consulting organization, Enthusion, Inc.
He is survived by his wife Veronica "Bonnie" Flynn McWhinney , his daughter Susan Gentry McWhinney, son Peter Harrison McWhinney, son William Franklin McWhinney, sister Madeline Dale McWhinney, sister Cope Craven McWhinney, sister Anne Watson, sister Susan Morse, brother Rodney McWhinney. He is predeceased by his brother Leroy McWhinney.
He was a great teacher with a profound intellect, spirited energy and a deep heart. He was a metal sculptor with a deep appreciation for Navajo mythology and rugs. The generous gifts of his mind challenged us, his soul mentored us, and his heart danced with us. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Tanzanian health care non-profit organization that Will supported with his energy and heart: HealthSpan International, attn: Jim Katzenstein, 26571 Lucinda, Mission Viejo, CA 92691.
A memorial gathering will be scheduled in the future.
Published in Los Angeles Times on Apr. 8, 2007.